In 2005, when I started my first company, Compass Intelligence, with my business partner Stephanie Atkinson, we had all sorts of grandiose plans. We were ready to change the world of market research and consulting. But what we quickly discovered is that despite all our well-laid plans, keeping our business alive in the short-term, often made it harder to make our business thrive in the long-term.
Staying Alive Means Just Surviving
I knew that what we were experiencing was common. It’s a reality for the millions of business owners in America today. The fact is small business owners are often bogged down by the grunt work they need to do to keep their businesses going. But it is exactly this grunt work done today that also keeps us from being able to discover ways to make our businesses thrive tomorrow.
These are the things that most affected my ability to grow my business:
Not delegating: I didn’t find enough time or energy to train my staff every day.
Stagnating: I wasn’t able to learn new skills or try new productivity boosters myself.
Limited sharing: I found it hard to keep key business information organized and shareable, which made it harder to be efficient and agile, and thus grow.
Tunnel vision on my market: Accessing industry and market news and information quickly and continuously was difficult without the right tools. This insight is key to coming up with new ideas and keeping pace with change in your sector.
- Not innovating collaboratively: Sharing ideas is key to success in the long-term—especially ideas from your entire team.
How to Thrive
Being a strategist by profession, I took on the grunt work head-on and focused on efficiency. By doing this we started to discover ways to thrive instead of just survive. It was, and continues to be, a continuous cycle of improvement and also very iterative. Some things work well right away, and other things (like training your staff) you have to keep working at as long as you’re in business.
Here are some of my favorite solutions that will help you thrive:
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